Château de Chenonceau, France

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The Château de Chenonceau located outside Tours, France is probably one of the smallest of chateaus in France, but what it lacks in size it makes up in its beautiful location. It spans the River Cher in the Loire Valley. It was built in the early 15th century as a small manor house, and then was expanded by Katherine Briconnet in 1515. In 1547 Henry II offered the Chateau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who loved the petite place and commissioned the bridge connecting the house to the other side of the river, which is the most extraordinary part of the chateau. After King Henry’s death his widow Catherine de Medici took over. Apparently this little jewel of a palace sitting on top of the river was very popular among the royalty; Catherine de Medici added new gardens and spent lavishly on parties entertaining her guests from Paris.

I visited the place in the wee hours of the evening in April of this year when there were only three or four people with us. As the closing time approached my daughter and I were the only two people left in the palace, we didn’t even see the security staff. It was one of the most amazing experiences: being in this small cozy palace alone with history and the spirits of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, the two most powerful women in French history.

There are several small bedrooms, including Diane’s and Catherine’s.  Two living rooms are no bigger than a modern day living room in a suburban home and the library and chapel are tiny. The most amazing part of the palace is the bridge across the river built by Diane de Poitiers, which was covered and converted into a ballroom gallery in 1576 by Catherine de Medici. This ballroom gallery over the river has 18 windows through which you can enjoy the river views.

The Chateau’s kitchen and the butchery are located below the living quarters cleverly placed in the two piers in the bed of the river supporting the main house. The supplies to the kitchen were brought in by boat and hauled up by a winch through a window. I have attached some pictures of the chateau.

Note: The history of Chateau de Chenonceau came from Wikipedia.

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